Sensory Overload


I can only describe our last two weeks climbing in Ireland as a sensory overload. From the world class climbing, through the amazing people to the stunning landscape, Ireland has truly impressed me. To top up the sensory overload, we did feel the full force of the Atlantic on our west coast leg of the trip, with gales blowing the sea up the entire length of Mirror Wall at Burren. 

Ireland climbing had only entered my radar in the last couple of year. It's hard to believe that such a premier destination has escaped my cunning eye for world-class rock for such a long time. Having gathered enough information, me and Dave Pickford headed over to scope the main attractions, Burren, Donegal and Fairhead. The idea was to get a taste of the best crags for future trips. Fairhead stood out as the winner, no surprises there, but there's so much good rock worth various lifetimes of exploration.

We started our trip in Burren (Alladie) due to a better forecast. When we arrived we couldn't believe what a good crag it was. If Carlsberg made trad crags, it would be the Burren. 10min approach from dream van-dossing spot, perfect isolation, wild landscape and amazing climbing. Also, worth mentioning the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna is bloody brilliant too. In general, I found the grades pretty stiff, specially Eddy Cooper routes. But regardless of grades, most routes are fantastic, great rock and inspiring gear too.

Dave working on Very High Springs E7. It took three days to get the right condition to get it done.

Dave leading the bold Ice Queen E5. I had a look at it and found it too bold for my taste. I second it clean, but I was glad I didn't get on the sharp end. 

Our first route on arrival, Gallows Pole E2

For most of the trip the Mirror wall was out of the question. Some waves got up half way up the wall. Still, we had plenty of climbing on the Aran wall.

Dave on the stunning E3 Kleptomaniac

Dave finally dispatching Very high springs E7. Seepage was solved by taping tissues to cracks weeping water. 

This was some the best type2 fun. Main Mast on Sail Rock, we climbed this classic E2 in Force 8 gales. I went up first and I was being peeled off the rock. The Dave, being a bigger dude, he suceeded topping out, but not without a battle.

We headed to Muckross Head to sample some routes there, but after Sail Rock, the whole cliff was engulfed in water. The next stop was Cruit Island, the idea being to get to Owey Island. But a quick call to Dan the boatman revealed he wasn't going anywhere in that weather. And looking at the 10 foot waves no one could blame him. That night the weather was so strong that was prosing the van skylights open and had to be secured with climbing cord.After Donegal we headed straight to Fairhead. People say it's the best crag in UK and I can see why, the place is awesome.

Dave on the stunning pitch of Promised Land, a full value E4 

Me on the top pitch of Wall of prey, a world class E5

I think this is Equinox E2. Looking down on our first abseil was like being in a sweet shop. 

An impressive cliff and view, just what you want to get you psyched upon arrival. 

Everyday we were treated to amazing sunsets looking out to Rathlin Island
Nick Bullock about to top out The Mask I believe, at 10.30pm. I love summer days, late starts, late finishes and good times.
Dave on the scary Primal Scream E5/6
Jou Jou, the Belgian cranker girl, being cool as a cucumber on the upper section on Primal Scream. She didn't bother much with gear, she claimed she wasn 't good at placing it, so kept climbing instead.
Our last day was fantastic, we went to do 2 classic E4s, Born to run and Hallowe'en. Here I'm starting pitch 2 in Born to run, total class climbing.
Dave on the top pitch of Born to run. Being a north face, I was freezing my bits on the belay.
Starting the first pitch of Halloween E4. I don't think it had seen an ascent this year, I had to clear the holds of green lichen before using them. But the pitch was amazing nonetheless. 
Fairhead was truly one of the best crags I've visit. It's ironic that I've spent so much time and money travelling around the world in search of rock and some of the best is quite literally a days drive away from London. Here Dave contemplating the sunset from our stunning van spot in Murlogh bay

The Long Summer

Feeding the Rat